Boys basketball preview: Minnewaska Lakers have a new coach and some depth

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GLENWOOD — It seems fitting that depth will be important for the basketball team along the shores of Lake Minnewaska.

Bringing back three starters and a large crop of players to fill in the holes, the Lakers hope to keep the level of play consistent, regardless of who’s on the court.

Minnewaska sophomore forward Tenzin Dahl takes a mid-range shot with BOLD’s Andrew Meyers and Ryan King nearby during a game between the Lakers and Warriors on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, at BOLD Elementary School in Bird Island.

Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

“We honestly have a lot of guys who are very similar in their ability levels,” said first-year head coach Zach Traphagen. He has eight years of head-coaching experience and an 88-92 career record after coaching the Brandon-Evansville girls for three seasons and the Canby boys for four years.

“We should be a very deep team this year,” Traphagen said. “This group of guys has worked extremely hard through the summer months and early into the young season now and we’re excited to see how they continue to improve this year. They are a great group of kids who are hungry to work hard and improve every day.”

Minnewaska

was 1-25 last season, including 0-14 in the West Central Conference. Gone are Hunter Kloos, an All-West Central pick, and PJ Johnson, an all-conference honorable mention. James Ward and Noah Palmer also graduated.

Tenzin Dahl is the top returning scorer for Minnewaska. The 6-foot-2 junior forward averaged 10.4 points, five rebounds, a steal and an assist per game in 2022-23. Another junior, Alex Panitzke, is back after averaging 6.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, two assists and a steal. He is a 5-11 junior guard.

Senior Dylan Alexander also returns. He’s a 5-11 swingman that averaged four points, five rebounds, three assists and a steal a season ago.

Sophomore Marc Gruber looks to get some key minutes for the Lakers.

“Marc played some significant varsity minutes late in the season last year and we are excited about his future,” Traphagen said.

Minnewaska also has a trio of seniors in guard/forwards Jack Majerus and Ryland Martin and guard Austin Ballhagen. Juniors Levi Johnson (G), Jacob Mrnak (F/C), Zach Palmer (G), Connor Frey (G), Owen Meulebroeck (F/C), Zach Gugisberg (G) and Carter Meyer (G) will vie for minutes. Sophomore Luke Danielson (F/C) also figures into the Lakers’ plans.

“These guys all have an opportunity to earn more varsity minutes based on their development and progression during the season,” Traphagen said.

Minnewaska schedule
(All games at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Dec. 2 — vs. Redwood Valley

Dec. 5 — at Montevideo

Dec. 8 — vs. Sauk Centre, 7:15 p.m.

Dec. 14 — at Morris/CA, 7:15 p.m.

Dec. 19 — vs. Eden Valley-Watkins, 7:15 p.m.

Dec. 28 — at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted

Jan. 5 — vs. West Central, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 6 — at Pipestone, 2:15 p.m.

Jan. 9 — vs. Melrose, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 11 — vs. BOLD, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 18 — vs. Benson

Jan. 23 — at Barnesville, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 25 — vs. Litchfield, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 27 — at BOLD, 2:30 p.m.

Jan. 30 — vs. Montevideo, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 1 — at New London-Spicer

Feb. 2 — at Sauk Centre, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 6 — at Benson

Feb. 8 — vs. Morris/CA, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 12  vs. KMS, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 16 — at West Central, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 20 — at Melrose, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 22 — vs. Paynesville, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 26 — at Osakis, 7:30 p.m.

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